UPDATE 1-Chile economy likely grew 2.5 pct in first quarter - cenbanker

viernes 16 de mayo de 2014 16:34 GYT

(Adds central bank chief's comments, background, details)

By Alonso Soto

RIO DE JANEIRO May 16 (Reuters) - Chile's economy likely grew by 2.5 percent in the January-to-March period compared with a year earlier, the country's central bank chief said on Friday at a central bankers' seminar in Rio de Janeiro.

That would be the weakest pace of quarterly growth for the economy of the world's top copper producer since the first quarter of 2010, when it was hit by a massive earthquake.

"We don't have yet the (GDP) figures for the first quarter of this year, but it is going to be about 2.5 percent," said central banker Rodrigo Vergara on Friday.

The central bank will publish the gross domestic product data early on Monday. Last year, Chile's economy grew 4.1 percent.

The IMACEC economic activity index, encompassing about 90 percent of the economy tallied in gross domestic product figures, grew 2.4 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, data showed earlier this month

After a recent spike in consumer prices pushed annual inflation above the bank's stated 2 percent to 4 percent tolerance range, the bank opted to keep its key interest rate on hold at 4.0 percent for a second consecutive month late Thursday, despite the slowing pace of growth.

The bank still expected inflation to end below 4 percent by year-end, Vergara said on Friday.   Continuación...